Bianca Del Rio’s star has continued to rise since winning Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2014. After her time on the show, the dimple-cheeked, larger-than-life performer has toured across the globe, starred in several feature films, and published a best-selling memoir.
The snarky comedy queen was prepared to continue entertaining audiences last year when COVID-19 restrictions ended public gatherings across the nation. Just before her life was put on pause last March, she moved into a new home in Palm Springs, California, where she continues to quarantine.
The world has adapted since then, and artists are finding innovative new ways to reach their fans. Bianca Del Rio is finally stepping outside of her pandemic bubble to headline Drive ’N Drag Saves 2021, a drive-in drag tour starring fellow Drag Race alumni Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Kameron Michaels, Naomi Smalls, Plastique, and Violet Chachki.
Bianca Del Rio was kind enough to talk to OutSmart prior to her Houston Drive ’N Drag shows at Deerbrook Mall on March 2 and 3.
Lourdes Zavaleta: What was your 2020 like?
Bianca Del Rio: It was a lot like everyone’s 2020—a pretty dismal reality check. I started out the year pretty good, and then once corona happened, I tried to make the best of it. Luckily, I’m in sunny Palm Springs, which has been pretty good for me mentally. Other than that, fingers crossed things will get better this year.
The arts, including drag performances, were heavily impacted by COVID-19. How did the pandemic affect your work?
Everything I had scheduled was pushed back. It’s a scary situation—I mean, people are dealing with illness and death. There’s a lot going on in the world, so I understood that entertainment would be affected. And even if the vaccine was distributed tomorrow and everyone was taken care of, I think it would take a while for the arts to get back. There are fans who are going to be interested in going out and supporting entertainers, but it’s just a bit risky to put that many people in one space. That’s why Drive ’N Drag is such a great opportunity, because it’s the safest way to see a drag show right now. You and your bubble can see us from the safety of your own car.
It’s clear that your production is making a big effort to ensure everyone’s safety. Did this play an important role when deciding to participate in the show?
Yes. I’ve worked with Voss Events for many years, and when they approached me about this, I was most impressed by the COVID regulations. They travel with a specialist who will be there to test us daily and make sure we’re also being safe by regularly washing our hands and social distancing. They’re on top of everything, and take it all seriously. I’m also excited by the fact that they’re able to get a drag show to the South. I really hope people turn out, because they’re doing things the right way.
Aside from the safety measures, what else are you looking forward to?
People! My dogs are sick of me and my jokes. [Laughs] I’m excited to be seeing other faces and having their energy around me. I think everyone is in the same boat. We’ve kind of been clouded in our heads [with so much] TV watching and ordering takeout. This is finally something different to do.
Speaking of watching TV, have you been keeping up with the new seasons of Drag Race?
I have not. I’m horrible, but I like seeing things all together consecutively, as opposed to waiting for one episode each week. Also, I didn’t realize so many seasons had been coming out. Since there’s a new American season and a new UK season, my Twitter feed is a blur—I don’t know who is on what or what is going on. I need to do my homework. There’s so many new queens, it’s crazy!
As a Drag Race legend, is it exciting for you to see the show continue to grow in popularity?
I think it’s great. The show keeps bringing drag into more people’s homes. Drag Race was an amazing opportunity for me, but it’s now a completely different show than it was then. Since there’s so much of it right now, I hope the new queens get as many opportunities as I was able to have over the past seven years.
Since you’re spending so much time at your new home, what have you been up to?
Liquor. [Laughs] No, I just moved, so I had a whole house to set up. I had to unpack many boxes and reorganize my life. That’s been really saving my sanity. This move happened the week we went into lockdown, so I’ve been very lucky and blessed. Over the months, it was interesting to piece it all together while living in a different world.
I’ve also been having cocktails, talking to my dogs, and roaming around the house in a wig and pretending I’m an old movie star. Clearly, I haven’t been doing well! Kidding. [Laughs] I’ve just been trying to get through the days, without really being able to plan too far in advance. That’s why I’m so excited about Drive ’N Drag.
We’re excited to have you back in Houston! What can fans expect from the show?
There’s so many different types of performers. You’ve got Violet, who’s an aerialist. The other girls do high-energy dances and can lip sync, twirl, and split. I don’t do that—I’m too old, and I’m not interested in starting anew. [Laughs] But really, there’s a great variety of performers. So if you hate one, you’ll love another. There’s also some great production values. Dancers, costumes, video screens, lighting—they do it up! You’re going to want to be there.
Drive ’N Drag tickets are now available at VossEvents.com.
This article appears in the February 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.